Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reliance Retail hiring professionals from Thailand

Reliance Retail is slowly filling its top slots with professionals from Thailand, a country whose retail market once used to resemble India’s with its freshly-minted organised players hemmed in by a well-entrenched network of neighbourhood stores.

The firm has already hired at least 10 people in key roles — all of them from Thailand’s Tesco Lotus. Around 20-25 more are expected to join in the coming months to run its value formats, confirmed two persons on condition of anonymity since they are not authorised to speak to the media.

The Thai professionals will be heading key functions such as operations, commercial, IT, supply chain and HR. ET had reported last month that Gwyn Sundhagul, former chief marketing officer and director at Tesco Lotus, has joined as CEO of value formats at Reliance Retail.

Titima Bantrapiwat has joined as head of supply chain and Sansahee Kubena has come on board as head of HR.

“We engage with global and domestic talent in line with requirements and identified gaps across levels in the organisation. We would not like to comment on any specific appointments,” said a Reliance Retail spokesman said. Meanwhile, K Radhakrishnan who was heading value format and Ratan Agarwal, head of HR for the value format, have left the company.

Raghu Pillai who virtually ran the show as president for strategy at the value format has been shifted to the chairman’s office to oversee alliances and joint ventures.

Many of these Thai professionals are being hired on the company’s payroll, while others are being brought in on limited-term contracts. The incoming team has been mandated to study the company’s systems and processes closely, identify the gaps and suggest remedial measures, said another person familiar with the retailer’s plans.

Reliance has been in talks with various global retail chains for a strategic partnership. ET had reported on its talks with French retail chain Carrefour to establish a partnership in the value retail business.

The infusion of foreign talent is happening in the division that runs the so-called value retail formats —Reliance Super and Reliance Fresh and Reliance Hyper. The company, which started operations in 2006 and now runs about 1,000 stores across formats, also runs a line of specialty stores such as Trends, Timeout, Digital, Footprints and Jewels. Value format stores accounts for more than 70% of the company’s revenues.

Talent shortage

India’s $37 billion organized retail industry, which enjoys only a fraction of the estimated $400 billion retail market, faces huge human resources challenge, as it scrambles to fill up ranks with able and experienced professionals. The spotlight on management talent is even harsher. Many retailers, who undertook a scorching pace of expansion during the boom years, have been hurt badly since the onset of the economic slowdown. While one major retail chain, Subhiksha, went bankrupt, a few others reportedly came close.

Reliance Retail, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd, reported a loss of Rs 260.2 crore on a combined turnover of Rs 2,400 crore last fiscal. RIL chairman Mukesh Ambani emphasized t

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